New Movements

I’m captivated by one idea: That we can transform our workplaces with the power of love in 2019.

All of you who have joined this Human Workplace community over this last year are part of this new movement. It can seem unlikely or even preposterous, especially with the day to day struggle in teams and organizations who are still denying their humanity. They haven’t yet realized they can and should be human and loving at work if they want to succeed. But the momentum in building.

Some people may scoff at that.

Who can blame them?

New Movements never seem plausible when they begin.

New Movements are overshadowed by what now fills the room, the house, the town,

so New Movements begin in quiet corners where few notice.

New Movements may toddle when young,

but with time they mature into something more steady, able, and strong. 

New Movements find and gently fill unmet needs,

And the suffering are surprised at this, but once relieved, they join in.

New Movements dance alone in the kitchen at first,

when no one is watching.

But after a time …  

New Movements dance with family at a wedding …

then with friends at the club …

then eventually with a crowd of countless others in a wide open field

under the starry night sky.

And then no one is scoffing,

because everyone is dancing.

We are, right now, creating new kinds of workplaces, just by showing up differently. We don’t have to wait for permission to be kind to colleagues. We don’t have to ask to build trust. We don’t have to hope that someone else will lead with empathy. We can do that. Right now. We can start dancing in the kitchen. Today. Where you are. Where I am.

We make work more human, when we are human and loving. For those of us who are public servants, we make government more human, and we know THAT is sorely needed. You already are doing this. You are already feeling the impact. Keep going. Keep loving. And let me know how it’s going, won’t you? renee.smith@gov.wa.gov

I Am a Public Servant

I Am a Public Servant

It’s good sometimes to pause from our work. Take a breath. Really consider our work.

Truthfully.

Sometimes the truth is that we are thrilled. We are delighted by our work and grateful for the privilege of contributing. We can’t wait to get to work each day. We love the challenges we face, the service we offer, the skills we learn, the way we express ourselves to the world in our work.

Do I have to say "love"?

Do I have to say "love"?

Using the word “love” about work is surprising and even shocking to most people.

When I use the “L” word when I speak or teach, it is what my colleague Darrell calls a mic drop moment.

“Love.” Boom! Then silence. Dead silence. Perhaps followed by nervous laughter.

But that’s also where the really important exploration begins.

Can we talk?

Can we talk?

Arguably one of the most difficult issues we face as a nation is race. We struggle to talk about these challenges, and we struggle even more to work through them effectively. So I was surprised to learn abut a team at the Department of Enterprise Services who had a risky and potentially difficult discussion about race and implicit bias that was effective, respectful and team strengthening. I wanted to learn more…

The Power of Intrinsic Motivation

I had the chance to hear Michaela Beals and Josh Calvert present the content of this post at a Results Review to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee along with state agency leaders. I was impressed by the way they connected the State's Employee Engagement Survey results with practical insights into human motivation and an effective human-centered workplace. Thanks to Michaela and Josh for sharing their work here with the community of A Human Workplace. -Renée

Most workplaces are not awesome. A little awe can help.

Most workplaces are not awesome. A little awe can help.

Think of a time when you felt a sense of wonder. Perhaps you marveled at the grandeur of a towering mountain. Or maybe you suddenly sensed the vastness of the universe as the Aurora Borealis spiraled across a winter sky. Were you caught off-guard? Did you lose your sense of time but gain a sense of mystery? Did you feel small and deeply connected to something greater than yourself? Then you probably experienced awe. 

Why do we make the workplace so hard on ourselves?

Why do we make the workplace so hard on ourselves?

People are struggling in most workplaces with disengagement, poor well-being, lack of diversity and inclusion, burnout, conflict, bullying and harassment, unethical behavior, poor performance, challenges to creativity, and lack of problem solving.

So what the heck are we doing to ourselves? And wouldn’t it make sense to do something else?

Learning to Weave in Olympia

Learning to Weave in Olympia

My last post described our need to weave together a stronger social fabric that both honors our common humanity and respects and values diversity. At A Human Workplace: Olympia on June 22, we took a first step by exploring and learning about empathy and diversity. Here’s what we did and what happened. But first, what seems most essential.

Weaving our Human Tapestry

Weaving our Human Tapestry

The fabric of our society feels threadbare. A tattered cloth with gaping holes, it barely drapes us nor does it display its full beauty. We wish it were different but we seem to have lost our ability to weave that tapestry. But in truth, we’ve never really mastered that craft in the first place nor has our tapestry ever truly been complete. But where to begin? We need to learn to weave.

Listening from the Heart

Listening from the Heart

It’s hard to concentrate on writing tonight. You see, I’m excited…and nervous. Tomorrow morning more than eighty public servants are gathering from all over government to explore empathy and diversity at the June Human Workplace Meet Up in Olympia.

I’m thrilled and can’t wait to have this conversation with this caring community. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being anxious too. After all the subject of diversity is a challenging one and taps in to some of our most difficult and long-standing social issues. 

Love and Hard Times

Love and Hard Times

This week we lost people who we mostly knew through their work and the impact they had on our lives. Kate Spade’s work clothed us beautifully and gave us self-expression, color, and design in the form of useful objects we enjoyed both practically and aesthetically. Anthony Bourdain’s work inspired us to discover the world and ourselves by meeting people in their neighborhoods, tribes, and homes exploring rituals, traditions, and creativity of food and much more.

Being Human-Centered

A few weeks ago, some 30 public servants gathered in Olympia to explore the question, "What does it really mean to be human-centered?" What follows is a summary of their advice for leaders and teams for how to put humanity at the center of our work ... with a few illustrations thrown in for good measure.

"Let's be human-centered." "Yes!" "Huh?" "Uh oh." "Oh please." "Well duh!"

When you begin to advocate for a more human-centered workplace, you will probably hear a variety of reactions. Some people will be supportive while others will be confused, worried, or skeptical. A supportive reaction certainly feels better. But the other reactions are just as legitimate. And they are important, especially if we are going to practice what we preach and, you know, respect all the humans we work with. Let’s consider some possible reactions and how to respond in ways that are consistent with our human-centered values.